Recovery: the forgotten element of a successful training regimen

People often overlook recovery and how it compliments — and accelerates — performance in whatever activity you partake in. Here are some ways that different recovery modalities can help facilitate a robust recovery program to match the intensity of your fitness program.

Aug 1, 2021
Jordan James, CSFC
Runner tired and laying down on the track

Over the past 25-30 years in the fitness industry, we have heard everything. From exercising at a moderate intensity for 150 minutes to how blood flow restriction can accelerate your rehab protocol, we are constantly fed with new information on how to tweak and improve our workouts. Yet many still face the same results and give up on their goals.

What people often fail to mention is the recovery aspect and how it compliments — and accelerates — performance in whatever activity you partake in. Here are some ways that different recovery modalities can help facilitate a robust recovery program to match the intensity of your fitness program and help you achieve your goals. Here are some different ways to implement recovery into your life:

Hydration: as sweat evaporates from your skin during exercise, it removes heat from the body, but you also lose body fluid. So, you need to drink fluid during exercise to replace the fluids you lose when you sweat. That way, you'll reduce the risk of heat stress, retain normal body function and maintain performance levels. Water plays a significant role in the process of recovery, from helping digest vital nutrients to repairing muscles damaged during exercise. Remember that our muscles are actually 75% water! It is recommended to have at least eight ounces of water within 30 minutes of exercise.

Normatec: An underrated form of recovery comes in the form of compression therapy. By using Normatec compression sleeves, you can accelerate recovery after exercise, allowing you to get back onto your feet more quickly. They can be used daily for 20-30 minutes, and come in the form of leg, arm and hip sleeved. Here are some of the researched backed evidence benefits when active individuals incorporate Normatec sleeves: reducing swelling and inflammation, speeding up muscle recovery, preventing delayed-onset muscle soreness, relieving muscle pain, improving athletic performance, and increasing flexibility and range of motion.

If you prefer more old-school methods of recovery, think about incorporating massages into your regimens. Massages that focus on techniques such as deep tissue can sooth your muscles, increase flexibility, reduce stress and reduce risk of future injuries. Another important component is reducing lactic acid buildup. During exercise, especially strenuous anaerobic exercise, the lactic acid levels can rise, causing fatigue, decreased blood flow to the area and elevated levels of soreness. A sports massage promotes recovery to these affected areas by flushing the lactic acid build up and circulating re-oxygenated blood.

It is also important to tailor your recovery approach to the type of workout you want to complete. For example, cardio-focused training, such as sprinting or long-distance running should be followed by Normatec compression therapy and cryotherapy to help eliminate toxins and decrease inflammation throughout the body. Stretching is also key here, both before and after a workout.

If you are focusing on strength training, it is essential to alternate high and low intensity and volume days to allow your body enough time to recover. An example of this could involve doing a heavy workout on Monday, following it up with a lighter workout with a focus on mobility and recovery on Tuesday.

If you want to take the next step in planning out your recovery, we recommend using a smartwatch, Oura ring of Whoop strap to track your body’s feedback. From examining your heart rate to tracking how your workouts affect your sleep, wearable technology can give you detailed insights into how your body performs and reacts to the stress of a workout. If you don’t have any of these devices, simply listening to your body and responding appropriately will make a difference. If you notice you are more tired after HIIT days, it may be helpful to schedule your rest day the day after you complete a HIIT workout.

At the end of the day, while there are some things everyone should do to recovery (hydrate, sleep, take a day off), ideal recovery programs vary from person to person. Trying out various methods and combinations can help you maximize your recovery — and your training. Don’t know where to start? A trainer or recovery specialist can help!